Rebel with­out a cause?

Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - Lifestyle -

Some­times we find we’re still gorg­ing on the foods we were de­nied as a child, in a point­less act of adult re­bel­lion. I have a re­bel­lious streak. In my teens, it was the cor­ner­stone of my fun: it led to me reg­u­larly wag­ging school to binge on ice­cream at friends’ houses while we watched Jerry Springer, and to com­pos­ing ju­ve­nile yet pas­sion­ate “un­der­ground” news­let­ters, bit­terly de­nounc­ing the un­fair­ness of maths tests. School would have been in­tol­er­a­ble with­out it.

But to­day, I don’t have a lot to rebel against. I like and re­spect ev­ery­one I work with. No-one or­ders me to wear reg­u­la­tion socks, tidy my room or at­tend PE class. And with plan­ning, I can watch Jerry Springer and eat ice-cream when­ever I want.

But my re­bel­lious streak has to come out some­where. So th­ese days I rebel, quite idi­ot­i­cally, against my­self.

Take the other day. I’d no­ticed that I was of­ten feel­ing thirsty, and my skin was quite dry. I’ve been ex­er­cis­ing a lot, and don’t drink enough wa­ter. So I re­solved, quite sim­ply, to drink more wa­ter. For about two days, I drank the reg­u­la­tion eight glasses. And I felt fan­tas­tic. My skin was soft, I didn’t feel parched. My thoughts were clearer and all the cogs and wheels seemed to clank to­gether with a pleas­ing smooth­ness. Sim­ple prob­lem, sim­ple so­lu­tion.

Then, on day three, my brain and I had this con­ver­sa­tion. Brain: “Hey, you haven’t had any wa­ter to­day. Go fill up a bot­tle and drink it. You know you’ll feel great.” Me: “No. Why don’t we see what hap­pens if I don’t?”

So I stopped drink­ing wa­ter reg­u­larly and ev­ery­thing felt crap again. Yeah! I sure showed my­self who was boss!

But I think my aver­sion to drink­ing wa­ter has deeper roots than a sim­ple need to rebel against some­thing. When I was a child, the words, “I’m thirsty!” would in­vari­ably be met with the re­sponse, “The wa­ter’s in the tap.” So I can’t help think­ing that a part of me is still re­belling against the rules set by my par­ents. It would ap­pear I’m not alone in strug­gling valiantly into adult­hood against the di­etary re­stric­tions of child­hood. I have a friend who wasn’t al­lowed to eat choco­late as a kid, and now reg­u­larly pushes whole bars of Cad­burys into her mouth, like logs into a sawmill.

Af­ter gorg­ing on ba­con one day as a child, fol­lowed by a colour­ful fi­esta of vom­it­ing, an­other friend was banned from eat­ing ba­con for the rest of his youth. To­day, as a 25-yearold, he prac­ti­cally lives on pig alone. As well as the drink pro­hi­bi­tion in my house, I wasn’t re­ally al­lowed any junk food at all. Now, though I eat pretty well over­all, I’ll tear peo­ple’s limbs off for a taste of plas­tic cheese.

Con­versely, an­other friend whose par­ents fol­lowed a sen­si­ble “ev­ery­thing in mod­er­a­tion” approach for their fam­ily – even plas­tic cheese was al­lowed oc­ca­sion­ally – lays claim to an equally re­laxed at­ti­tude to food as an adult. She can buy a fam­ily-sized block of choco­late, eat two squares and put it away for later, a feat of mag­nif­i­cent re­straint in my world.

Which makes me won­der what foods I should be strict about with my son, who is al­most two. He cur­rently eats a pretty stan­dard, all-the-food-groups, go-easy-on­the-sugar-and-fat sort of diet, but if I clamp down on par­tic­u­lar things as he gets older, will he burst into a frenzy of Big Mac gorg­ing as soon as he earns his first payslip? Judg­ing by his cur­rent na­ture – af­fec­tion­ate and out­go­ing, with a deeply de­ter­mined stub­born streak – he has his mother’s propen­sity for re­bel­lion. I can only imag­ine how he’ll be as a teen and be­yond. My par­ents are rub­bing their hands to­gether in an­tic­i­pa­tion.

If you have any com­ments for Alexandra, email her at alex­i­[email protected] gmail.com

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